Home » Sarat Pattanayak replaces Niranjan as new Odisha Congress president | Bhubaneswar News

Sarat Pattanayak replaces Niranjan as new Odisha Congress president | Bhubaneswar News

Sarat Pattanayak replaces Niranjan as new Odisha Congress president | Bhubaneswar News


BHUBANESWAR: Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Monday selected senior leader, Sarat Pattanayak (66), as the new chief of the party’s state unit. He succeeds Niranjan Patnaik, who had been holding the fort since April 19, 2018.
“The president has accepted the resignation of Niranjan Patnaik and appointed Sarat Pattanayak to the post of president of the Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee (OPCC) with immediate effect,” read a statement from the All India Congress Committee’s general secretary, K C Venugopal.
This is Pattanayak’s second term as the OPCC president. He held the post from 2001 to 2004. Pattanayak’s selection came in the wake of a massive revolt against Niranjan’s leadership, frequent dissidence and infighting among leaders and the sinking fortunes of the party, which has been out of power in Odisha since 2000. Though his name was doing the rounds a few days ago, some leaders had then indirectly opposed his candidature.
“I am aware of the challenges and am ready to face them. I am grateful to Sonia ji and Rahul ji for trusting me with the task. I will work in close cooperation with all the workers and leaders of our party,” Pattanayak, who was elected to the Lok Sabha from Balangir twice in 1991 and 1996, said.
The new OPCC chief said he would seek the support of all in his party and draw the action plan for the 2024 elections. “We will work hard to revive and strengthen the party. Our immediate focus is on the ensuing Brajarajnagar bypoll,” Pattanayak said.
Niranjan is hopeful that the party would do well under the leadership of his successor. “Serving the Congress party as president in Odisha has been a great honour for me. I am confident that under the able leadership of Sarat babu, Odisha Congress will touch new heights. My support and guidance to Sarat babu will always be there,” Niranjan said.
Though Niranjan had tendered his resignation in the wake of the party’s dismal show in the 2019 elections, the party had not accepted it then.
Senior Congress MLA Tara Bahinipati, who had been demanding that an MLA be made the OPCC president, now said he is happy with Pattanayak’s appointment. “We support the party high command’s decision,” Bahinipati said.
Between 2000 and 2022 so far, the Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee has seen 10 presidents. Among them, Congress stalwart and late chief minister J B Patnaik, Jayadev Jena and Niranjan Patnaik served as OPCC presidents twice each. But none of them could turn the fortunes around for the Congress that often hogged headlines for infighting and revolts.
The party continues to be plagued by infighting and indiscipline of the leaders. Having won 16 assembly seats out of 147 in 2014 to only 9 seats in 2019, the journey of the state Congress has been downwards since 2000. The Congress’s vote share in the 2019 assembly polls dropped to 16.12 % from 25.7 % in 2014. The party’s vote share in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls nosedived to 13.81% from 26.38 % in 2014.

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